BACK in the summer of 1962, the Beatles were only months away from becoming superstars.

But on Friday, July 20, that year John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison were here in Warrington, playing a now infamous gig at the Bell Hall.

Supporting the Fab Four that night before their hour-long set were the Vigilantes, a burgeoning band of young lads from Orford and Bewsey.

Fifty-six years on, bassist Jeff Rigby has reflected on that night in the now-demolished Orford Lane venue.

The 73-year-old said: “They had groups on at the Bell Hall every Friday night.

“We were one of the local groups who would be support acts, then they would have headline acts line Gerry and the Pacemakers or the Undertakers.

“They had all sorts of big name Merseybeat groups from Liverpool.

“This was the first time the Beatles had played in Warrington, and I think they did another gig at the Towers Labour Club.

“We didn’t meet Ringo Starr because Pete Best was their drummer then, but we did meet George, John and Paul.

“It was just before they hit the big time.

“We knew they were a little bit special, but we never thought they would get to where they did - otherwise we would have got their autographs and taken photographs.”

After forming in 1961, the Vigilantes became a fixture on Warrington’s music circuit - playing venues including the Parr Hall, the Co-op Hall, the Baths Hall, the Carlton Club and St Alban’s Catholic Social Club.

But the band went their separate ways in 1965, and would not regroup until more than 45 years later when a chance encounter at Warrington Museum and an appeal in the Warrington Guardian led to them picking up their instruments once more.

Jeff, who now lives in Great Sankey, said: “We got together as teenagers and ended up on the Liverpool scene, playing venues like the Cavern Club.

“We played with Gerry and the Pacemakers a few times and the Rolling Stones - all in the dim and distant past before they became famous.

“In 1965 we split up and went our different ways and we didn’t meet again for nearly 50 years, before we got back together about five years ago.

“I went to an exhibition at Warrington Museum about the 1960s, where people were asked to put messages of their memories on a notice board - I noticed one from one of the guys.

“We put an article in the Guardian and got back in touch with the other band members.

“Then we talked about it and thought we should try playing together again, and it took off from there.”

Current band members Jeff, Pete Garner, Ray Johnson and Bill Monks are now regularly gigging throughout the north west - including a monthly set at the King and Queen in Padgate.

The next ‘Afternoon with the Vigis’ takes place from 1pm to 5pm on Wednesday, August 1, and is free to enter.

Jeff added: “At the beginning of this year, we thought we would do a one-off gig in the King and Queen and it took off.

“There’s a little club that comes and watches us - people who still remember us from the early days.

“We’ve really enjoyed playing together once more - we’re just like kids again.”